War on Terrorism

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Mexico Guard aviators ‘Steal from the Reaper’

By Army Sgt. Daniel Schroeder
25th Combat Aviation Brigade

CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan - “Medevac, medevac, medevac” comes over the radio as flight crews from Company C, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, New Mexico Army National Guard run out to a UH-60 Black Hawk, start it up and take to the skies in response to the request for medical evacuation.

The standard for medevac missions are to launch the aircraft in 15 minutes and to get the patient to a medical facility within one hour. According to Army Lt. Col. Christopher Holland, the 1-171 commander, this Guard unit maintained a 99.9 percent success rate of achieving that standard.

Over the past 12 months, Soldiers of Company C, located at Camp Dwyer and Forward Operating Bases Edinburgh, Paine and Delaram, have completed more than 1,400 missions; treated more than 1,800 patients; and flew a cumulative total of more than 3,900 flight hours from across the four locations.

“The crew chiefs and medics did extraordinary work during the course of the deployment,” said Army Staff Sgt. Chuck McGould, the operations noncommissioned officer in charge. “The ability of these Soldiers to be flexible to any changes, such as geographical separation, injuries … and weather conditions when accomplishing the mission was one of the most valuable qualities of the unit.”

In addition to treating American service members, the medics also tended to International Security Assistance Forces partners and Afghan National Security Forces, as well as Afghan civilians of all ages.

Some of those calls left long lasting memories on the Soldiers of Company C long after their missions were complete.

“I remember two medevac calls we got when I was on shift,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Moya, a flight medic with the unit. “We responded to the call of a 7-year-old local Afghan girl who had been burned by oil and a 5-year-old boy with a head injury. The innocence of the children, being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, causes the memory [to] stick with you.”

The Soldiers of Company C come from different backgrounds, allowing them to bring different experiences and knowledge to the team. Their careers, ranging from a curriculum implementation school administrator to a sales manager for a tool company, brought diverse knowledge to the team as well.

“With all the diverse backgrounds and skills of the Soldiers in the unit, it is possible to find someone that has some knowledge about anything,” Holland said.

The Soldiers showed their dedication to the medevac mission by continuing to stay on top of maintaining the aircraft, equipment, and themselves.

“Our mission out here is all about the Marine, troop, or person on the battlefield,” Holland said. “When the crews react to a mission, they go by the motto ‘we will be there and be there fast.’ They have done a great job of getting the job done each and every time.”

With the last 12 months of medevac missions conducted, the Soldiers of Company C, 1-171 can return to their families and friends back in the states knowing they gave all they had helping those in need and living up to the unit motto, “Stealing from the Reaper.”

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